Becky Ward retires from international hockey

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After 179 caps for Scotland and 14 years playing in the senior women’s team, Becky Ward has retired from international hockey.

During a tremendous international career, Becky represented Scotland at three Commonwealth Games, several EuroHockey and FIH tournaments, and played a key role in the Scottish Women’s Programme.

Becky said: “I gave it my all and it’s time for me to call it a day. I played for Scotland for 18 years, 14 years as a senior, it was an honor and a privilege to play for so many years and I am grateful for that. I’m getting married later this year and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends.

“The team is heading in a fantastic direction, and I’m sad to be leaving the trip right now, but it’s been a good time for me. Chris Duncan and Vikki Bunce have been great and the team is progressing really well. I I will certainly encourage them at every opportunity.

Becky made her Scotland debut against Belgium in February 2008. “I remember it was very cold and I was waiting to go up. The first thing I did with a plaid shirt was fall flat on my stomach! I remember it was a ball on the touchline and I managed to fall.

“I had already traveled with Scotland to play indoors in Vienna in 2007. The team signed a poster for me on that trip, and I still have it on my wall. But when it came to playing with the away team, I remember I really felt like a youngster – it was a great experience for me.

The experience proved to be an important element in Becky’s development and soon after she was selected to play in a major tournament for Scotland.

Becky’s first major tournament experience came in 2009 in the EuroHockey A division, with a trip to legendary Wagener Stadium. Ward said: “I remember the stadium, and it was different then. I’ve played at Wagener Stadium a few times in my career, and these days there’s a nice modern grandstand, but back then it was pretty old school with wooden seating.

Fast forward to 2014, which was a huge year for Becky with the build-up to Glasgow 2014 including test series against South Africa, Ireland and Spain; as well as the London Cup and Champions Challenge tournaments.

Becky’s only goal for Scotland came in 2014 against India in a 4-0 win at the Champions Challenge in Glasgow ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Becky explained: “It was a penalty corner. It’s kind of funny because I was normally the trapper, and after the small group at the top of the DI, I realized that Emily Maguire was in the trapper position. So I decided to run for the post, just to stay clear, but the ball fell on me and I put it. I think I was the happiest person on the planet at that time!

Glasgow 2014 was Becky’s first of three Commonwealth Games appearances and was a special experience. The Glasgow National Hockey Center was built for the Games at Glasgow Green and the build-up to the tournament has been an exciting time. “The country was buzzing and I remember being so excited. Seeing Glasgow Green for the first time with the stalls is a memory that really stands out, everything was new and we were all looking forward to it.

“I also remember when we were in that full-time training block before the games, the traveling girls from Dundee and Edinburgh were pretty much living in a hotel in Glasgow. All the ladies who worked in the dining room used to hug us when we came back from our days off at home because we had been there so long. From the build up, you knew it was going to be good.

“The games were so loud and it was amazing to have all of our friends and family there. The atmosphere was great; the village was big; and mingling with all the other athletes was great too.

Four years later when Gold Coast arrived, Becky was cemented as one of the team’s senior players and was part of the team’s management group along with Kaz Cuthbert and Bex Condie. The leadership role was one that Becky embraced and enjoyed. She said: “For Gold Coast, I definitely had an added responsibility. We wanted to go out there and make Glasgow better – it wasn’t just about competing, we wanted to do better. Some games were so close, which was good and bad. On the one hand, we felt like we were going somewhere, but we had also invested a lot and were so close, but not all the results we wanted.

“Off the pitch, Gold Coast was special for different reasons. It’s the greatest experience I’ve ever had with the Scotland team, probably because we were all on the other side of the world. Being so far from home seemed to make the Scotland team more tight-knit than ever.

“Birmingham 2022 was similar to Gold Coast in that we got closer again. It’s still fresh in my mind obviously, but the crowd was amazing – there were so many hoops in the stand.

Becky was a mainstay for Scotland and represented the country at EuroHockey and FIH competitions in 2011 in Poznan; 2015 in London; 2017 in Valencia, Brussels and Amsterdam; 2019 in Glasgow and Banbridge; and 2021 in Amsterdam and Pisa.

One of his fondest memories of playing in a Scottish jersey was the EuroHockey Championship II, held in Glasgow in 2019. Scotland won gold in the jam-packed tournament with a record of 100%. The success of 2019 not only secured the Scots a gold medal, but also allowed them to return to the top tier of European hockey.

Becky said: “2019 was great, winning every game was just amazing. We had so many close games against Italy, and we couldn’t beat them in the final in Glasgow, it was like a We beat them again since and it felt like we got rid of that monkey in 2019.

“I also enjoyed the A division 2015. We had close games against Belgium, Germany and England. When we scored first, against England in our first game, it was great The goal was a corner kick and we had been working on it for so long so for Kaz to score was such a big moment Most of the other teams were pretty much full time hockey players but here we were showing them that we could compete against. Playing against these world-class players was what I thrived on.”

Scotland women’s head coach Chris Duncan also highlighted Becky’s achievements and contribution to the Scotland team. He said: “Becky has stood out on the national program during a career spanning 14 years and 179 caps. She has been a leader with her performance levels, her attitude towards training, her mentorship and her support for those around her.

“Becky has indeed had a magnificent international career spanning three Commonwealth Games, several European Championships and has had a significant impact on the development of the team whilst being a world class performer.

“As part of the program, we talk about putting emphasis on ‘people first’. We have athletes who combine multiple commitments at home, at work, in continuing education and more, while balancing the demands of international sport. Becky has been a reference in all of these areas and she will be missed.

When you have an amazing career like Becky’s, there are so many people to thank for their contributions and support over the years. Becky said: “I want to thank Dundee Wanderers, I started at the club when I was eight and they have really nurtured me and given me incredible support over the years. Ben and Marlyn Gibson in particular have been amazing to me, I call them my hockey parents and I want to thank them for all their support.

“A big thank you to all my family and friends, and a big thank you to John and my parents, June and Steve, who have been there through all the ups and downs – they picked me up so many times and I’d never be where I am without them.

“Thank you to my employer, The High School of Glasgow, for all the incredible support that made it possible for me to go and play hockey for Scotland. Thanks to my current club, the West Wildcats, who have also been great in recent years.

“I would like to thank all of my teammates and coaches over the years; all the players I played with during the trip. It was an amazing experience and I have so many great memories to look back on.

Congratulations from Scottish Hockey to Becky Ward on her fantastic career in Scotland.

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